Game Review: Stronghold Crusader Extreme
Release: 2nd June 2008
Genre: Real-time strategy
Developer: FireFly Studios
Available Platforms: PC
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Real-time strategy (RTS) games have come in their hordes over the years, ranging from the strategic military focussed games, to the build-a-nation resource gatherers. Not unlike other genres, Shooter and Sports titles to name a few, many are complete tripe. Rarely does a title make it into the hall of fame, and sadly, Stronghold Crusader Extreme isn’t even worthy on honourable mention.
Let me start by saying Extreme is more akin to an expansion pack than a new title. Stronghold Crusader was released in 2002, and if Crusader Extreme came out not long after, the graphics would have been acceptable. However, in an age of DirectX 10, Dual-Core processing, and general nosebleed inducing graphics (Crysis), the average gamer expects a higher standard. So, what would have been good graphics once upon a time, looks like complete crap. Don’t get me wrong, the crap has good detail and some nice touches that feel more nowadays (trees waving in the wind), but to go back to 2D was a mistake. The 2D RTS ship has sailed I’m afraid, I know we miss it, but it’s time to move on.
Much like the graphics, the sound is outdated as well. It scores a little higher due to the fact that with a modern audio setup like my own, it can be stretched to be almost acceptable. It still scores low because, well, it’s outdated. ‘Nuff said.
For a non-expert of the Stronghold games, this game can be very confusing to start off with. First of all, you gather resources and such, but it seems like you can build forever, regardless of what’s in your stockpile. There is an attempt at depth here as well, but micromanagement is hard enough in a good RTS game, and with things such as the following, it just adds to the workload tasks that aren’t needed. For example, if you wanted to make bread for your nation’s food stockpile, you need to build wheat farms. Then you need mills to grind that wheat into flour, and then bakeries to make the bread. I can see where the developer was going with this, trying to add realism or some shit, but it just didn’t work. The interface is complicated for someone new to the franchise as well, which will put a lot of gamers off. 10,000 units on screen is epic though. Battle away.
If you like this game, or it’s franchise, then obviously the replay value is there. It has online multiplayer, the challenges in single player are challenging to say the least, and there are lots of nations with different things to try out as well. The maps are pretty generic, deserts and such like, but there is a scenario editor, if you like that sort of thing.
This isn’t your Age of Empires, or Cossacks, so many fans of those games would not enjoy this. If you are a hardcore Stronghold fan then this is the game for you I suppose, if not, well, you’ll probably be wasting your money.